A Green Solution to Drying Clothes

When my partner Tony and I gave ourselves a challenge to live as consciously and as sustainably as possible, I figured we would ace it in twelve months. Now, nearly four months into our experiment, I am beginning to have some doubts. It’s just that there is so much to consider once you do start to consider things. Take laundry for instance.

Laundry is an essential task. You can be careful not to overdo the cleanliness obsession. I have access to a good ecological laundry detergent that is effective at 40 degrees. You can make sure you always do full loads. But then there is the drying process.

Now, there is nothing more lovely than the scent of clean bedlinens that have been line-dried in sunshine.

Hand–Sewn Clothespin Bags
Hand–Sewn Clothespin Bags

The problem is that I live in Ireland. Even when the sun shines in winter, there is always a fair amount of humidity in the air; laundry never completely dries except on the very driest and sunniest of summer days. Irish cynics would say that you could count those on one hand. That’s not completely true, but in a very dreary summer they would not be far off the mark.

I do not know what housewives did before tumble dryers. I guess they slaved over the ironing board to dry every stitch of laundry done – by hand in those days. Without the tumble dryer you run the risk of slipping on clean clothing that is ever-so-slightly clammy.

Housewives of the past would also have had a ‘clothes maid’ to hang over the kitchen range to dry laundry. But you need a high ceiling to make the most of that option. We had a very high ceiling in our kitchen when we lived in a terraced house in Leeds, West Yorkshire. It worked dandily and I didn’t have need of resorting to a tumble dryer.

But our current home is a cottage with low ceilings, and space is really at a premium. This present all sorts of challenges. With a conventional clothes drying rack that sits on the floor in front of the wood stove, we always run the risk of tripping over each other or stepping on the kitten. Said kitten also thinks it is a great game to pull the clothes off the dryer onto the floor. I am still looking for a glove that is obviously a favoured toy.

Today though, I turned to Lehman’s for an ecologically sound solution.

Favorite Eight Arm Wall Clothes Dryer
Favorite Eight Arm Wall Clothes Dryer

On Lehmans.com, I found a rack that can be bolted into a corner of my kitchen where I can hang clothes to dry when the airing cupboard (or hot press as it is called in Ireland) is full and the weather if abysmal. It is made by Amish craftspersons and strikes me as a simple liver’s solution to a practical dilemma.

Not only will it help me reduce my electricity consumption, it also supports craftspeople. They may not live locally to me, but then online is a pretty green way of shopping. I’m not hopping in my car and doing a fifty mile round trip to my nearest big shopping centre, where they would never have heard of this wonderful invention anyway.

As for the CO2 expended in shipping, my own low impact – no impact solution is to plant trees. When we run out of space here in Corrogue, our townland that in Irish is ‘the place of the briars’, then my friend Beryl in Ballina is eager to forest some of her seven acres with Irish native species.

No matter what issue presents itself for consideration in the Low Impact – No Impact way of living, it always seems to come round to planting more trees!

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16 years ago

We have the exact same 8-arm dryer in our laundry “cubby”. As I knit wool and wool blend items for my family, I needed something that I could use to dry smaller items. I needed something that could dry several items at once, not take up a lot of room, and could be high enough that our Lab wouldn’t be able to reach to obtain a “sneaky snack”. The 8-arm is perfect. I’ve found it works great for smaller items and so many other things – wet outer wear, soggy mittens, the dog’s wipe down towel, to dry out wash rags, to hold hanks of yarn to roll into balls, etc. It’s one of many fabulously useful and well-priced items I’ve gotten at Lehman’s.

15 years ago

We live in Nova Scotia with damp weather much like Ireland with lots of summer fog along the ocean. Many times I partly dry clothes out doors on a line and bring them in damp.

I have two of the clothes drying racks similar to the picture. One is on either side of my kitchen wood stove. There is also a rack over my bath tub that extends out and folds back like an accordian when not in use.. In the sun porch are two more free standing folding clothes dryers.

Damp clothes go on the racks in the sun porch. In rainy or winter weather clothes hang over the bath tub to drip and then are moved to the racks over the stove.

My washer is an old wringer washer missing the wringer. I have a hand wringer clamped to a board. The board in turn is clamped to the claw foot bath tub.

All the drying racks and the wringer are 70 to 100 years old and came from my husband’s grand mother and great grandmother! The wringer washer came off of Freecycle locally. So our washing is done with recycled items.

For those people who don’t have hand-me-down drying racks and hand wringers I think it is great Lehman’s still sells them! Have a nice wash day! Linda Rose

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